CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State authorities want to stop more than a dozen out-of-state drug companies that they say sell suspicious amounts of prescription pills to West Virginia pharmacies.
Attorney General Darrell McGraw filed a civil action Tuesday in Boone Circuit Court, asking a judge to ban 14 drug companies from Delaware to Florida from selling huge amounts of medications to "pill mill" pharmacies in tiny West Virginia towns.
The civil action is another step W.Va. leaders have taken recently to combat a prescription drug abuse epidemic that costs the state an estimated $430 million a year.
"[Prescription drug abuse] devastates families and hands enormous burdens on hospitals, courts, law enforcement and communities," McGraw said. "With today's filing, we are seeking to make major drug distributors that have substantially benefited from prescription drug abuse accept responsibility and pay for their illicit actions."
Chief Deputy Attorney General Fran Hughes said drug companies keep statistics on the normal amount of prescriptions a pharmacy in a given area should expect to fill in a year. State law requires the drug companies to report "suspicious orders of unusual size" to the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy.
In 2006, a pharmacy in Kermit and its owner, James P. Wooley, received nearly 3.2 million doses of hydrocodone and ranked 22nd in the nation in purchases of that drug, according to the civil action and Gazette reports.
Wooley testified that the pharmacy filled one prescription per minute that year, the civil action stated.
Records in that case also revealed that the pharmacy regularly paid its suppliers hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that nearly 90 percent of the drugs it ordered and received are linked in some way to W.Va.'s drug epidemic, the civil action stated.
Federal prosecutors filed conspiracy charges against Wooley in January.